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Wafd Party rejects party leader’s nomination for presidency
Photograph: رانيا ربيع
 

Egypt’s Wafd Party announced on Saturday its official refusal of party head Al-Sayed al-Badawy’s nomination in the upcoming presidential election, which could see Badawy become the only contender to current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Badawy had begun processing the necessary paperwork for his medical examination, which is a requisite part of the candidacy process, a party member told Mada Masr on Friday.

As party leaders met on Saturday, a number of Wafd Party youth staged a demonstration at the group’s headquarters in Cairo, carrying banners saying “President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is the Wafd’s candidate” and “the Wafd Party leads public opinion and is not led.”

The party’s deputy, Hussein Mansour, collected signatures from members in the party’s higher committee in a petition rejecting Badawy’s nomination, saying the state has various options at hand to deal with the lack of candidates in the race, including the postponement of elections altogether, adding that most members refuse the involvement the Wafd Party in these matters.

Without official party endorsement, Badawy cannot be fielded as the party’s candidate in the presidential elections. However, “Badawy is a prominent political personality, and it is possible that he decides to run independently if he likes,” Wafd Party member and MP Suleiman Wahdan told Mada Masr.

Before the party’s committee issued its decision, Wafd Party assistant head of parliamentary matters, Yasser Koura, told Mada Masr that the party has no issue with collecting the 20 endorsements from MPs required for nomination. “Some of our parliamentarians have endorsed Sisi, but these endorsement forms can be withdrawn if the endorsing MP goes to the National Elections Authority and asks for a new endorsement form for another candidate,” he explained.

Prior to Badawy’s sudden decision to run in the upcoming presidential elections, the Wafd Party’s official stance had been to support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s bid for a second term. Most of the Wafd Party’s members of Parliament have already endorsed Sisi.

Koura, who was touted to be Badawy’s presidential campaign chief, added that “withdrawing Sisi’s endorsements and replacing them with Badawy’s is not wrong because the Wafd Party did not have a nominee before.”

A parliamentary source, who requested to remain anonymous, previously told Mada Masr that Badawy was pushed for nomination so Sisi does not run for a second term through a referendum. “The president’s image abroad must be considered above all else, so that elections in the form of a referendum are not used against the Egyptian government,” he said.

Lawyer Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in a Wednesday press conference, citing government violations that led to unfair competition. On Tuesday, the campaign of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan announced its suspension after Anan was arrested and referred to military prosecution on accusations of violating military bylaws by running without acquiring the military’s prior approval. As of Wednesday evening, Anan’s whereabouts remained unknown to his family.

Former MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat withdrew from the 2018 presidential elections earlier in January, stating that the general political climate could place his supporters and campaign members at risk. Sadat’s withdrawal came just a week after former Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq also withdrew from the 2018 race.

Armed Forces Colonel Ahmed Konsowa was sentenced in December to six years in prison, charged with violating military bylaws, after he announced his intention to run for president while wearing military uniform.

Presidential candidates have until 2 pm on January 29 to submit the necessary paperwork for their candidacy to be officially recognized by the National Elections Authority. To be eligible to run in the 2018 presidential election, Egypt’s Constitution and presidential elections law stipulate that candidates must collect endorsements from at least 20 members of Parliament, or from 25,000 eligible voters from 15 different governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 endorsements from each governorate.

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